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Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Mark Shapiro cites Phillies, Padres as cautionary tales for spending on free agents

In our current era of austerity baseball, Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro and GM Ross Atkins are an owner’s best friends. They are happy to go out and toe the company line, justifying putting the bare minimum of effort needed to cobble together a major league roster. It is no surprise, then, that the Blue Jays just finished in fourth place for the third consecutive year after back-to-back appearances in the ALCS.

At Pitch Talks in 2018, Atkins said, “When you’re talking about free agency, you’re talking about aging players. And the trend of overpaying a player’s aging curve has come to an end across baseball.”

In late 2018, Shapiro defended the Jays’ decision not to call up top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. when rosters expanded in September, saying the decision “has nothing to do with business.” Guerrero had absolutely crushed it in 2018, batting an aggregate .381/.437/.636 in 408 plate appearances in the minors, including a 1.120 OPS at Double-A and .978 at Triple-A. He would continue to crush it in the Arizona Fall League.

In late February this year, Atkins set the ground work for the Jays to manipulate Guerrero’s service time, saying of the then-19-year-old, “I just don’t see [Guerrero] as a major league player.” Guerrero was held down in the minors until the Jays gained their extra year of contractual control, then brought him up in late April. He was no Pete Alonso, but had a fine rookie season, batting .272/.339/.433 with 15 home runs and 69 RBI in 514 plate appearances in the majors. Not bad for a 20-year-old. But the Jays were less interested in his age-20 season and more interested in his age-26 season. You know, in 2025.

“Why sell our team using star players when we can brag that our players’ dads were ones instead?”

 

QLE Posted: October 02, 2019 at 12:24 AM | 12 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: blue jays, cheap owners, free agents, mark shapiro

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   1. Jeff Francoeur's OPS Posted: October 02, 2019 at 12:34 AM (#5885342)
Yet the Phillies have a more recent trophy than Toronto.
   2. The Duke Posted: October 02, 2019 at 08:02 AM (#5885361)
Were Harper and machado the issue for either of these teams? Harper did about exactly what you would expect. Machado had an off year but not bad. There’s nothing there that would lead you to conclude those are terrible contracts yet
   3. Cris E Posted: October 02, 2019 at 11:16 AM (#5885414)
So if payroll at the top end of the performance charts are where all the costs are, and broadcast rights (only loosely linked to performance) are where the value is, then why would anyone try to win? Do tickets and attendance only matter in markets expensive enough to provide significant direct revenue and ancillary sponsorship opportunities make it worth the effort? That is, the players are purchased on a national market if you're interested, but seats, concessions and parking in KC are far less lucrative than in NY, LA, etc. Most of the teams accused of tanking are in lower cost cities.

If you're the players association how do you ensure you're more of a factor in strategic decisions than just a cost? Much of this dancing around is predicated on six years of control: both a fairly direct link between service time and player cost and a long enough control period to overcome the vagaries of the draft and allow the weight of high picks to come through. If you want to incite competition then shorten that period of control, but then you need to offer some compensation to owners. Manipulation of the luxury tax or some % of revenue to payroll rule as stolen from other sports are the likely avenues to pursue.
   4. PreservedFish Posted: October 02, 2019 at 11:24 AM (#5885416)
I'd be gunning hard for a % of revenue deal. Which would probably result in a huge overhaul of the entire system as we know it.
   5. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: October 02, 2019 at 12:11 PM (#5885432)
I'd counter by citing the 2019 Cleveland Indians as a cautionary tale for what happens if you don't spend money on free agents.
   6. bfan Posted: October 02, 2019 at 05:27 PM (#5885603)
Machado had an off year but not bad. There’s nothing there that would lead you to conclude those are terrible contracts yet


Machado was 10th out of 12 NL qualifying (by number of ABs) third baseman, in OPS, and he was closer to 12th than 9th. He was a drag on offense in his age 27 year, which if you believe aging curves, is his peak year. The only thing he led the league into was grounding into double plays. Maybe that isn't terrible the way a pitcher who gets hurt in year 1 of his contract and gives you 40 innings is terrible, but that was a crap performance by a player who is paid in the top 10 in the league, and there is no way around that.
   7. Athletic Supporter is USDA certified lean Posted: October 02, 2019 at 05:31 PM (#5885604)
I'd counter by citing the 2019 Cleveland Indians as a cautionary tale for what happens if you don't spend money on free agents.


Winning two more games than the previous year? Yes, they would have done better with better players, but this might not be the best cautionary tale in the ol' rhetorical playbook.
   8. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: October 02, 2019 at 06:56 PM (#5885615)


Winning two more games than the previous year? Yes, they would have done better with better players, but this might not be the best cautionary tale in the ol' rhetorical playbook.


They missed the playoffs by 3 games after letting the 4.6-WAR Brantley walk and replacing him with the -0.6 WAR Bauers. So yeah I think they're a bit of a cautionary tale.
   9. The Duke Posted: October 02, 2019 at 08:59 PM (#5885671)
6. That’s kind of a skewed analysis. He finished 30th in WAR in NL. He’s deep down the list of 3b because Many of them are in the top 15. It was an off year for sure. Saying it’s a crap performance is OTT. Padres are certainly hoping he’s more like a 5 WAR talent for the next few years rather than low 3s.

I’m generally of the view that people who sign big contracts have a tough time in their first year. I bet machado and Harper turn in better numbers next year
   10. Bote Man sez Davey is MoY Posted: October 02, 2019 at 11:22 PM (#5885767)
You know, if poor little rich boy Shapiro finds it too tough to compete maybe he should just quit. Then he could stop his b|tching and we wouldn't have to read about it. Win-win!
   11. danup Posted: October 03, 2019 at 03:11 AM (#5885789)
Phillies attendance: Up 600k
Padres attendance: Up 200k
Jays attendance: Down 600k

What a terrible outcome for the Phillies and Padres.
   12. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: October 03, 2019 at 07:01 AM (#5885792)
Machado was 10th out of 12 NL qualifying (by number of ABs) third baseman, in OPS, and he was closer to 12th than 9th. He was a drag on offense in his age 27 year, which if you believe aging curves, is his peak year. The only thing he led the league into was grounding into double plays. Maybe that isn't terrible the way a pitcher who gets hurt in year 1 of his contract and gives you 40 innings is terrible, but that was a crap performance by a player who is paid in the top 10 in the league, and there is no way around that.

It came up in a recent Harper/Machado thread, but Machado's home/road splits this season are something to behold:
Home: .219/.297/.406/.703 and .230 BABIP
Road: .289/.369/.513/.882 and .314 BABIP

Career BABIP is .298 fwiw. I can buy PETCO having a pretty large impact on a player, but not by that much. 15 HRs at home, and 17 on the road fwiw, so it isn't like PETCO is turning a bunch of HRs into routine flyouts either. It really is pretty much ALL home BABIP related. So I wouldn't want to be ringing the alarm bells too loudly on that one just yet.

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